Chief Executive Officer
Sheila Sankaran is Chief Executive Officer at KNG Health Consulting. She leads the day-to-day management of corporate functions, as well as qualitative research tasks and projects, drawing from her 26-year career in the public and private sectors.
Ms. Sankaran directs the KNG team supporting the learning system for CMS’s Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) initiative and Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) model. She oversees the development and production of newsletters and other communication vehicles, focus group and interview protocols, and data presentations. Ms. Sankaran’s work at KNG Health also includes supporting the implementation of Medicare disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payment policy through analysis of public comments submitted in response to the Inpatient Prospective Payment System proposed rule each year. Her other areas of expertise include: communications and publishing, structured interviews/discussions, stakeholder consultations, training and course development, and survey design and management.
Prior to joining KNG Health, Ms. Sankaran worked for the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS), and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At the ERS, she was Executive Editor of Amber Waves, the agency’s flagship magazine devoted to agricultural economics research. At the BLS, she worked for two national survey programs: the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey and the Consumer Expenditure (CE) survey.
Ms. Sankaran has an MA in economics from the University of Maryland College Park and a BS in economics from the University of Delaware.
Lane Koenig is President and Founder of KNG Health Consulting and Director of the Healthcare Reform and Payment Innovation Practice. He is a healthcare economist with over 20 years’ experience in the public and private sectors. As President of KNG Health Consulting, Dr. Koenig has overall responsibility for the quality of KNG Health’s research direction. He serves as Project Director and Principal Investigator for many studies, particularly those related to healthcare provider payments, value-based purchasing, and delivery system reform and innovations. He specializes in conducting both quantitative and qualitative analyses to study a broad range of health care issues, including evaluations of payment policy reforms, Medicare reimbursement policy, and provider quality and efficiency. He regularly conducts policy analyses that assess the potential impact on hospitals and other providers of proposed legislation or regulations. Over the last few years, Dr. Koenig has been involved in analyzing and assessing many of the quality initiatives by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. He has published studies on the Medicare Hospital-Acquired Conditions Reduction Program (American Journal of Medical Quality) and the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (Health Services Research). He has assisted both industry and Federal and state governments in the development and assessment of healthcare provider payment policies and value-base purchasing initiatives. Dr. Koenig’s research often involves qualitative analyses or mixed methods. Examples include: structured interviews with hospital leaders to assess providers’ decisions to participate in Medicare’s Bundled Payment for Care Improvement initiative (American Journal of Accountable Care); site-visits with major academic teaching institutions to collect qualitative information on the role of teaching and research on hospital costs; facilitation of physician panels to reach consensus on the costs and potential outcomes of treatment options.
Prior to founding KNG Health in 2007, Dr. Koenig was the senior economist in the Office of Policy at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Before joining CMS, Dr. Koenig was a Senior Scientist in the healthcare finance practice at The Lewin Group. He has published over 20 peer-reviewed studies in journals, such as Health Affairs, Health Services Research, and Medical Care.
Dr. Koenig graduated with Honors from the University of Florida, Gainesville and earned his PhD in Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Principal Research Associate
Berna Demiralp is a Principal Research Associate at KNG Health Consulting and Director of the Evaluation and Health Economics practice. She is an applied micro-economist with expertise in health, labor and demographic economics. She specializes in designing and implementing impact evaluations with particular emphasis in quasi-experimental designs. Dr. Demiralp evaluates Medicare programs and alternative payment models; analyzes cost, utilization, and patient outcomes associated with acute and post-acute care; and assesses cost-effectiveness of treatment alternatives. She evaluated the direct and spillover effects of Medicare’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program on hospital readmissions using an interrupted time series design. She served as project director on KNG Health’s evaluation of the effects of participation in Accountable Care Organizations on care quality and Medicare payments for high-cost populations, using propensity score matching and difference-in-difference estimation. She conducted a comparative effectiveness study of long-term care hospitals in caring for critically ill patients, using an instrumental variable approach. She is currently leading the KNG Health team’s task in monitoring the performance of the State Innovation Model (SIM) initiative, including Maryland’s new All-Payer model, applying trend analysis and statistical process control to identify changes in cost and utilization in acute and post-acute care settings.
Prior to joining KNG Health, Dr. Demiralp held positions in consulting and academia. As Senior Research Associate at Optimal Solutions Group and later at Summit Consulting, Dr. Demiralp served as Project Director and Lead Analyst for projects funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Labor, and the Small Business Administration. She has extensive experience in designing and implementing mixed-method, rapid-cycle evaluations, including the evaluations of SBA’s Regional Clusters Initiative and CMS’ Graduate Nurse Education Demonstration. Dr. Demiralp also worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at Old Dominion University and as an Associate Economist at RTI International.
Dr. Demiralp has published in peer-reviewed journals including Medical Care, Health Services Research, European Economic Review, Journal of Macroeconomics, Eastern Economic Review and Journal of Economics and Finance. She received her PhD in economics from Johns Hopkins University and her BA from Davidson College.
Elizabeth Hamlett is a Research Associate in the Evaluation and Health Economics Practice at KNG Health. Ms. Hamlett conducts qualitative analyses, primarily conducting systematic literature reviews focused on orthopedic procedures and post-acute care providers. She has researched and analyzed the treatments associated with total lower joint replacement, Medicare coverage indications, and other topics related to orthopedic care. She has worked with several health care databases including Medicare claims, the Kids’ Inpatient Database, and State Ambulatory Surgery and Services databases. Since joining KNG, Ms. Hamlett has supported CMS’ Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative and Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement model through learning system activities, such as dissemination of information and data analysis. She has also reviewed and summarized comments submitted in response to Medicare Disproportionate Share Hospital payment policies outlined in the Inpatient Prospective Payment System proposed rule. Recent projects she has worked on have included support and technical evaluation of musculoskeletal costs and prevalence rates, quality measures, and alternative payment models.
Prior to joining KNG Health, Ms. Hamlett managed a social psychology laboratory and worked with the non-profit organization, the Dialysis Clinic.
Ms. Hamlett earned a Bachelor of Science in policy analysis and management from Cornell University in 2015.
Joel Nair is a Research Assistant in the Healthcare Reform and Payment Innovation Practice at KNG Health. Mr. Nair conducts quantitative analyses with Medicare cost report data and Medicare claims data. He also assists with literature review and dashboard production.
Mr. Nair earned a BS degree in economics from the University of Maryland College Park.
Jennifer T. Nguyen is a Research Associate in the Healthcare Reform and Payment Innovation Practice at KNG Health. Ms. Nguyen monitors and analyzes legislative and regulatory developments related to Medicare payment and quality reforms, particularly as they pertain to hospitals. She has conducted numerous analyses for hospital and provider associations, foundations, and federal agencies to help them with evaluating payment and quality reforms and developing policy strategies to support their organizational priorities. She has extensive experience in the design and implementation of qualitative research–systematic literature reviews, surveys, and in-depth interviews. Recent projects she has worked on have included providing support and technical expertise on provider reimbursement and coverage policies in Medicare, quality measures, alternative payment models (Bundled Payments for Care Improvement Initiative, Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement), pharmaceutical drugs, orthopedic procedures and devices, and physician practice expenses. Her published work includes articles in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, The American Journal of Accountable Care, Foot & Ankle International, The American Journal of Sports Medicine, Journal of Arthroplasty (forthcoming).
Prior to joining KNG Health, Ms. Nguyen worked for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and at the Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
Ms. Nguyen received her Master’s in Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park and her BA in Political Science at Villanova University.
Rebecca Onyango is a Research Assistant in the Evaluation and Health Economics Practice at KNG Health. Ms. Onyango performs qualitative analysis by conducting literature reviews and other qualitative research on post-acute care (PAC) providers and high-burden medical conditions, such as migraine and cancer. She has also conducted quantitative analysis using CMS Provider of Service (POS) files, Medicare claims data files, and survey data. Examples of her work include completing a cost criterion analysis to support a New Technology Add-on Payment application, production and dissemination of newsletters to support providers participating in the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) Model and the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) initiative, and cleaning and analyzing newsletter readership data for monthly reporting.
Prior to joining KNG Health, Ms. Onyango worked as a Research Assistant in the Economics department at Mount Holyoke College and an Intern for the Advocacy and Policy Unit at UNICEF.
Ms. Onyango received a BA in Economics and International Relations from Mount Holyoke College.
Senior Research Associate
Asha Saavoss is a Senior Research Associate in the Healthcare Reform and Payment Innovation Practice at KNG Health. Ms. Saavoss conducts empirical research to understand and evaluate health policy proposals. She has co-authored more than 40 consulting reports and 6 peer-reviewed publications covering Medicare payment policy, Medicaid financing and eligibility, and other economic issues pertinent to health reform. She is an expert on a variety of health care data sources, with extensive experience using national survey databases and CMS administrative files. In 2017, Ms. Saavoss led the design and development of an advanced microsimulation model that generated localized coverage and spending impacts associated with the Better Care Reconciliation Act, a comprehensive health reform proposal intended to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Prior to working at KNG Health, Ms. Saavoss was a senior consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton. As a contractor, she served as a senior analyst for the Defense Health Agency, where she designed performance metrics to monitor military treatment facilities operating within the National Capital Region.
Ms. Saavoss earned a BA in economics from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Samuel Soltoff is a Research Associate in the Healthcare Reform and Payment Innovation practice at KNG Health. He has expertise in using administrative claims data to answer complex health policy questions. His research frequently involves modeling hospital payment systems, analyzing legislative and regulatory proposals, as well as devising and assessing the impact of proposed policies. Mr. Soltoff has investigated design issues in pay-for-performance schemes, using simulation and advanced statistical techniques to assess reliability. He has conducted analyses in a variety of additional health policy topics, including post-acute care, disproportionate share payments, differences in care settings, and the relative costs and clinical outcomes of alternative treatment options.
Recent examples of his work include using a difference-in-difference model to assess the effect of Medicare payment rate reductions with staggered implementation on patient outcomes and building a Markov model to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of new migraine therapies. Mr. Soltoff has authored peer-reviewed publications in the Journal for Healthcare Quality and American Journal of Medical Quality on the reliability of hospital assessment measures.
Mr. Soltoff received a BS in mathematics and a BS in physics in 2014 from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Senior Research Associate
Marie Steele-Adjognon is a Senior Research Associate in the Evaluation and Health Economics Practice at KNG Health. She has formal training and experience in conducting quasi-experimental analyses, simulation models, demand projections, econometric analysis of both cross-sectional and panel data, and instrumental variable techniques.
Dr. Steele-Adjognon conducts episode-based analysis, following patients’ episodes of care starting from admission to the short-term acute care hospital to the post-acute care (PAC) setting and then for a period of time following the post-acute care treatment. Common health outcomes she evaluates are mortality rates, readmission rates, and total healthcare spending. Examples of her work include evaluating how well different risk adjustment methods are able to capture variations in health outcomes; monitoring health outcomes, as well as PAC utilization, over time as different policies and programs change; simulating how new potential health care policy ideas might affect the number of people insured and how they are insured (through employer, public resources, etc.); and evaluating how individual hospitals compare to others in terms of market share and health outcomes within their geographic proximity using Medicare claims files. One specific project she is working on is evaluating how Maryland’s unique SIM All Payer system affects discharge rates, length of stay and Medicare and Medicaid charges at short term acute hospitals in addition to post-acute care settings throughout Maryland for the dual eligible population.
Dr. Steele-Adjognon earned her BS in Mathematics and Financial Economics from University of Maryland Baltimore County and her PhD in Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics from Michigan State University.
Senior Research Associate
Jing Xu is a Senior Research Associate in the Healthcare Reform and Payment Innovation practice at KNG Health. Dr. Xu has expertise in aging policy and healthcare related issues. She has extensive experience in conducting data analysis and policy evaluation to inform healthcare payment reform. Using claims and survey data, her research examines healthcare payments, costs, quality, and utilization. Examples of her work include: an analysis on quality and market performance of claims-based measures of the Post-Acute Care (PAC) Long-term Care Hospital (LTCH) Quality Reporting Program; a study of healthcare utilization among chronically critically ill Medicare beneficiaries, comparing between Fee-for-Service (FFS) enrollees and Medicare Advantage enrollees; an examination of the characteristics of Medicare FFS beneficiaries by PAC discharges and conditions; and an estimation of the payment impacts on LTCHs associated with legislative and regulatory developments.
Prior to joining KNG Health, Dr. Xu worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Hilltop Institute where she evaluated Maryland Medicaid programs. She conducted pharmaceutical health services research among Medicare Part D enrollees when she was a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She gained first-hand experience about the policy and practical challenges of end-of-life care as a Graduate Intern at Vidant Medical Center.
Dr. Xu earned her PhD in Gerontology (Policy) from the joint program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Baltimore County, her MA in Anthropology at East Carolina University, and her BS degree in Biotechnology at Fudan University.